Glasgow Cathedral – all you need to know

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Is Glasgow Cathedral worth visiting? All you need to know
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In a word, yes. If there’s one building in Glasgow that should be on your not-to-be-missed list, it’s Glasgow Cathedral.

There’s no doubt that it’s an impressive building. And it has an impressive history.

Read on for a complete rundown of the cathedral’s history and most interesting facts. And, most importantly, find out how you can visit this medieval marvel.

When was Glasgow Cathedral built?

One of the most amazing things about the building is how old it is.

One of the most amazing things about this grand old cathedral is how old it is.

This imposing Gothic cathedral replaced Glasgow’s first-ever cathedral. The original was damaged by fire in 1189. After the fire, the ambitious Bishop Jocelyn ordered the construction of a new cathedral on the site. He declared that it should be bigger and better than the previous one. In 1197, the cathedral that stands today was re-consecrated.

Bishop Jocelyn’s pet project turned out to be a gargantuan task that took centuries to complete. Over the years that followed, the building was continually enlarged and enhanced. The lower church was built in the 13th century; the upper church in the 15th century.

The Scottish Reformation of 1560 changed everything. Almost overnight, Scotland went from a devout Catholic country to a Protestant one. The Scottish Catholic Church all but ceased to exist and attempts were made to eradicate all traces of Catholicism. This meant that Catholic cathedrals were attacked.

Glasgow Cathedral got lucky. It was one of the only medieval cathedrals on mainland Scotland to survive mostly intact. St. Magnus Cathedral in Orkney can also make this claim. But if you want to see a Scottish medieval cathedral, Glasgow is much easier to get to than the remote Orkney Islands!

Escaping destruction, the cathedral was instead “cleansed”. Its altars, sculptures and other Catholic artefacts and furnishings were removed. It is a miracle that the cathedral survived these volatile times. The tenacious building stands strong today, offering its centuries-long tales of survival and resilience.

The most interesting facts about Glasgow Cathedral

It is in the centre of Glasgow and is a famous building in the city.

  • Perhaps the most surprising fact about this famous cathedral is that it’s not really a cathedral! This is because it has not been the seat of a bishop since 1690. Despite this, it is still widely referred to as a cathedral.
  • As well as being the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland, this grand cathedral is the oldest building in Glasgow.
  • The cathedral’s iconic spire wasn’t added to the building until the 19th century.
  • Glasgow Cathedral is nothing if not a survivor. As we know, it came through the Scottish Reformation relatively unscathed. It has also endured several major fires over the centuries, most notably in 1401 and 1652. As if all that weren’t enough, a lightning bolt caused significant damage to the cathedral in 1406.
  • The cathedral is dedicated to St. Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow. St. Mungo is said to have founded the city in the 6th In fact, this very building is home to his tomb, which lies in the lower church.
  • The building’s dark, gothic look has made it a sought-after filming location. Several famous Hollywood productions have been shot there. These include Outlander, Cloud Atlas and, most recently, The Batman (2022)

How do I get to Glasgow Cathedral?

Glasgow Cathedral is in the city centre and is very easy to get to.

It could not be easier to get to this well-loved Glasgow landmark Our bus route stops at Cathedral Square, right next door. When you’re done, hop back on and head for your next destination.

Opening Times and Visitor Information

The cathedral is open every day.

You can find the building within the Cathedral Precinct. It is right next to Cathedral Street and Cathedral Square. Curiously, its actual address is Castle Street!

The cathedral is open to visitors every day of the week, so you’ve got no excuse to miss it. The opening times are:

  • April to September: Monday to Saturday: 10:00 to 17:00, Sunday: 13:00 to 17:00. (Last entry at 16:30.)
  • October – March: Monday to Saturday: 10:00 to 16:00, Sunday: 13:00 to 16:00. (Last entry at 15:30.)

Visits are free of charge. However, donations are welcome to keep the cathedral in tip-top shape. We recommend you reserve your free place to guarantee entry here.

You can also buy a self-guided audio tour for the bargain price of £2 for adults and £1 for children. Simply download onto your mobile or tablet, bring your own headphones and go!

Glasgow Cathedral: a stunning example of Scottish medieval architecture

This beloved cathedral is a hugely important part of Scotland’s history. It is definitely worth seeing, both for its remarkable architecture, and its fascinating history.

So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself to Glasgow and make sure the Glasgow Cathedral is at the top of your to-do list!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Glasgow Cathedral is thought to be the oldest building in Glasgow. Some other impressive old timers are:

  • Crookston Castle
  • Provand’s Lordship
  • Provan Hall
  • Old College Bar

Yes, you can take photos during the cathedral’s opening hours. The only time taking pictures is discouraged is when churchgoers are worshipping.

There is no official dress code to visit Glasgow Cathedral.

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